Analysing 'theory networks': identifying the pivotal theories in marketing and their characteristics

Rian VAN DER MERWE, Pierre BERTHON, Leyland PITT, Bradley BARNES

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Social network theory and descriptive statistical analysis are used to identify and analyse the characteristics of the pivotal themes emerging from within the key marketing literature. Data are collected over a ten-year period from three leading academic marketing journals i.e. Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing, and Journal of Marketing Research. Our findings highlight the most important pivotal theories based upon a combination of citation frequency, and theory-to-theory network linkage power. Whilst none of the leading theories identified appear to stem from marketing, most come from closely related disciplines such as economics and psychology, and relate to several common themes including the management of relationships and human behaviour, organisational issues and behaviour, and decision making. We identify some limitations associated with our research, several areas worthy of future investigation, and based upon the theory, extract some insights that practitioners may also find beneficial.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-206
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Marketing Management
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Social Networks
  • Network Theory
  • Theories


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